Thu | May 23, 2019

High-dependency units will slash maternal, child mortality

Published:Thursday | September 13, 2018 | 12:00 AMPaul Clarke/Gleaner Writer

HUNDREDS OF premature infants and high-risk pregnant women will see the quality of their healthcare improve markedly with the construction of high-dependency units (HDUs) at the Bustamante Hospital for Children and the Victoria Jubilee, Cornwall Regional, Spanish Town, and St Ann's Bay hospitals.

The groundbreaking exercise for the construction of the units at the Bustamante facility (symbolically held also for Cornwall Regional and Victoria Jubilee) took place yesterday at the country's only dedicated children's hospital, where Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton hailed the efforts of the European Union (EU) for its funding of the J$1.3-billion construction project. Construc-tion will last for 12 months.

Construction cost for the HDUs is part of the €22 million allocated to fund the Programme for the Reduction of Maternal and Child Mortality (Promac) projects. A HDU provides intermediate-level care, between that which is available on a general ward and in an intensive-care unit.

Tufton said that motherhood has been about ill health and death for too many women, noting that statistics show that globally, every one to two minutes, a woman somewhere dies in pregnancy or childbirth.

"Given those numbers, the work of the EU-funded projects in Jamaica is vital," he said.

Promac was designed to facilitate Jamaican mothers and children having access to quality care through infrastructure improvements; capacity building for healthcare workers, the promotion of positive health-seeking behaviours, and the enabling of civil-society advocacy for maternal and child health to reduce the level of pregnancy-related mortality and morbidity.

"I want to place on record how much this programme represents, how much it is giving to the Jamaican people, how much it has strengthened and will strengthen the relationship between the EU and Jamaica, and clearly, how much we appreciate it," Tufton said.

Head of the EU delegation to Jamaica Malgorzata Wasileswka hailed the groundbreaking exercise as a great day because "it was inaugurating works on three hospitals".

"We have already inaugurated two, the ones in Spanish Town and St Ann's Bay, but today is really special because it's three at the same time. This assistance is from the people of Europe to the people of Jamaica,"

Meanwhile, Don Mullings, managing director M&M Jamaica, the company that won the bid for construction, committed to completing the constructions on time and within budget.

paul.clarke@gleanerjm.com